A few months ago, I wrote about moving down to San Francisco and feeling lost. I didn’t know the best places to eat, how to shop for obscure (and not so obscure) ingredients, and where to find a quiet coffee shop to get work done. At that time, the city didn’t feel like home to me. I wandered around from store to store, trying to find some passionfruit for this recipe.
Well. It took me three months, but I finally freakin’ found some!*
*Actually, that’s a little bit of a lie. Erlend found it for me while he was looking for weird fruit (a hobby of his) at the Mexican markets down in the Mission. But WHATEVER. Passionfruit found. Mission accomplished.
These days, I’m a little more settled in San Francisco, but there are still stumbles here and there. Interestingly enough, my life here in the big city seems quieter and less adventurous than the one in Portland. Back there, it was easy to jump in the car or hop on my bike to find something to do on a whim. But San Francisco is a place where people routinely scramble to book dinner reservations months ahead of time (as well as reserve campsites six months out, which is just bananas to me), so it’s a lot harder to be spontaneous and find something new without planning in advance.
So, living in San Francisco has made me more of a homebody. There are more weekends in, more hours spent perfecting my pies, and more days dreaming up new desserts. Adventure no longer comes in the form of seeking out new restaurants and bakeries; instead, it comes from reading about ones from far away places, both foreign and familiar, and trying to recreate them at home.
These passionfruit donuts are one such example. I first read about Leonard Bakery’s malasadas in one of the earlier issues of Lucky Peach a couple years ago. If you’re unfamiliar with malasadas, they’re basically Hawaiian donuts — they don’t have a traditional hole, and are originally based on a Portuguese donut recipe. Although the first malasadas were just rolled in sugar, Leonard’s also offered ones filled with different custards and curds made from coconuts, pineapples, and passionfruit. Each of Lenny’s malasadas is made to order, and the article described them as light and crisp pillows that melted in your mouth.
After reading the article and knowing I wasn’t going to make it to Hawaii any time soon, I went ahead and tried the malasada recipe in Lucky Peach (adapted by Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, no less). But somewhere along the line, I tripped and ended up with malasada donut holes instead. Tasty, sure, but not quite the real thing.
This recipe, however, strikes a little closer to the mark. These donuts are not only the right size, but they do indeed taste as promised: light, crisp, and melt-in-your-mouthy. It definitely helped that, for the first time in my donut making career, I was actually able to evenly fry the donuts! Each donut came out of the fryer in the perfect shade of gold, mostly thanks to my shiny new copper core All-Clad pots (seriously, copper core cookware rocks — check out the notes below)! I immediately filled each freshly fried, still-warm donut with the tangy and creamy passionfruit curd I’d prepared beforehand. The contrast between the warm dough and the cool curd was heavenly. Before I realized it, I’d eaten three in one sitting. If that isn’t a good donut, I don’t know what is.
Thank you to All-Clad for sponsoring this post by providing me with the All-Clad TK pots and pans that I used to make the donuts in this post. The great Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se fame actually helped design the pots himself! In particular, I loved the copper core of the stainless steel pots and pans I received. Stainless steel pots are great in the kitchen because they’re durable and can take a beating, but they can also have a reputation for uneven, spotty heat distribution. All copper pots are kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum — they are extremely conductive and transfer heat evenly, but are a pain in the butt to maintain. Stainless steel pots with a copper core end up with the best of both worlds — durable and easy to clean, with the ability to heat up quickly and evenly. Check out the full All-Clad TK collection, but be sure to read the specs — only some of the pots and pans have a copper core.
As always, all the thoughts and opinions expressed just now are mine and mine alone. I just really like my sponsors! Thank you for supporting Hummingbird High and all the folks who make it possible for me to bring you guys all the baked goods.
Some baker’s notes:
- You can use either fresh passionfruit juice (with the seeds strained out) or frozen passionfruit puree in this recipe. Fresh passionfruit was a little hard for me to source, but I would occasionally (and rather randomly) see it at major supermarkets like Whole Foods and even Safeway. You can also use passionfruit puree, which can be found in the frozen section of Latin American markets or even online (but for a much steeper price). Whatever you do though, don’t use artificial/shelf-stable passionfruit juice. They put a ton of extra sweetener and artificial preservatives in there that’ll just ruin your curd.
- Plan ahead for this one! You should make the passionfruit curd first so that it’s ready to go when the donuts are fresh and warm; the curd keeps in a airtight glass jar for up to two weeks. The dough works best if you make it ahead of time and let it chill overnight in the fridge — you end up with prettier donuts that keep their shape!
Passionfruit Curd Donuts
- a candy/deep-fry thermometer
- a Bismarck pastry tip
- a 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter
For the Passionfruit Curd
(makes around 1 cup, enough for 12 generously filled donuts)
- 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) passionfruit puree
- 2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (1 stick // 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
For the Donuts
(makes around 12 donuts)
- 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 1/2 cups (17.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup plus 1 cup (8.75 ounces) granulated sugar, divided into 1/4 cup and 1 cup portions
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 ounces) at room temperature and cut into 1-inch cubes
- vegetable oil, for frying
For the Passionfruit Curd
- In a medium heavy-bottomed pot, whisk together 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 3 large egg yolks until well combined and you have a homogenous pale yellow mixture. Whisk in 1/4 cup passionfruit and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice until the mixture thins out and place the pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (and make sure to use a heatproof rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 (F) on an instant-read thermometer.
- Once the mixture registers 160 (F), remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 cup cubed unsalted butter, a couple cubes at a time, only adding more when the previous cubes are fully incorporated. Once all the butter has been added, use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the curd into a small glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 2 to 3 hours (but preferably overnight). The curd keeps in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up 2 weeks.
For the Donuts
- To prepare the dough, bring 3/4 cup whole milk just to a boil over medium heat in a small pot. Watch closely to ensure that the milk doesn’t boil over. Pour the milk into a liquid measuring cup and let it cool to between 105 (F) and 110 (F). When the milk has cooled, add 2 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks to the milk and whisk gently to combine.
- In the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast, and one teaspoon kosher salt. Add the milk mixture and mix just until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed, about 3 minutes. The dough will look sticky, but that’s okay. Add 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, a cube or two at a time. If the butter isn’t incorporating, remove the bowl from the mixer and knead the butter in with your hands for a minute to get it started. Just keep adding and kneading until it’s well combined.
- Once the butter is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and knead the dough for another few minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly-greased medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least three hours, but preferably overnight.
- When the dough has chilled, line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper generously with cooking spray.
- Tip the cold dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a rough nine by 13-inch rectangle about 1/2 -inch thick. Use a 3 1/2-inch cookie cutter to cut out 12 dough rounds and set them on the prepared sheets. Sprinkle a light dusting of flour over the top of each dough round and lightly cover them with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to proof until the dough is puffy and springs back slowly when pressed gently, about one hour.
- When you’re ready to fry the donuts, line a wire rack with paper towels. Put 1 cup granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Add vegetable oil to a medium, heavy-bottomed pot until you have about two inches of oil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and heat the oil to 375 (F). Carefully add 1 to 2 donuts to the oil and fry them until golden brown, around 1 to 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to fish the donuts out of the oil and transfer them to the prepared wire rack. After about 1 or 2 minutes, when the doughnut are cool enough to handle, toss them in the bowl of granulated sugar until coated. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- To fill the donuts, use the Bismarck pastry tip (or the handle of a wooden spoon) to poke a hole into one side of each, making sure not to poke through to the other side. Fill a pastry bag with a small round tip (or a Bismarck doughnut tip, if you’re fancy) with the passionfruit curd. Insert the tip of the pastry bag into the hole and gently squeeze to fill each doughnut. Serve any excess curd on the side as a dipping sauce (it also works well with waffles!). The donuts are the best on the day they're made.